American Field

Field Trial Report

Indiantown Gap Trials

By Ernie Saniga | Jan 11, 2018

Petersburg, Pa. — We held the Indiantown Gap trials starting on November 6 at the Keystone Bird Dog Trust grounds near Petersburg, Pa. Purina supported us again.

It was the 27th consecutive running on these grounds following many renewals at the Harold Watson farm and adjoining grounds at Troxelville, Pa.

The trial’s name came from the original venue at the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation where Watson started the club, then an all-age event on what was known then as Gold Coast Circuit in the spring.

Merv Eisenhart has been chairman since the beginning here. The same for Dr. Art Hower, grounds manager, and myself in the role of secretary.

It was 1972 or 1973 when I first went to the trial at Troxelville, the first “big one” for me. Eleven trainers competed. Birds were everywhere then and we had the hunters to go after them. Most of them went to field trials because they had something to do with the dogs when the season was over.

Sandyacres Frank won the stake, a classic then. Sandyacres Black Baron was second. I can’t remember who was third. Gerald Tracy handled and lent this Penn State student a horse to ride. I still remember Frank handling those wild roosters like an artist and running those ditchlines with the logic of a mathema-tician. I asked myself, “Wow! How does a dog do that?”

Baron was gone the first 8 or 10, came back with a head full of quills from a porcupine, and had them pulled out by Gerald, who had pliers with him. Knowing nothing but hunting, I thought Baron beat Frank. Still do, even though Frank was a great one in my book.

Why do we remember these performances from nearly fifty years ago?

Irv Mohnkern owned Frank and other good ones, like Rocky River Buck. On his deathbed, not lucid, he was calling his dogs from the past; “Here, Frank, here, Buck, here, Skip,” and so on.

What is this mystery about dogs and field trials?

Greg Strausbaugh is the new treasurer. His dad Gene had dogs with Gerald and one of them won the National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship back to back. Greg topped him with his Serious Threat, multiple champion, winner of the Invitational among other good trials for Mike Tracy.

Greg planted birds here with Merv Eisenhart. Every brace they go the hour and before we run in the morning.

We sure miss Keith Thomas who usually shares the bird planting with Greg. Keith is recovering from an auto accident and should be back in the spring. Bob Reed drove the dog wagon.

We had our usual free dinners and drinks each night, dinners donated by R. B. Powell and his wife Bridget Allen, Karen Saniga, Greg Strausbaugh and Muriel Primm.

We were entertained by R. B. and Bridget’s band on Friday night. A longtime trialer, R. B. has now turned to the banjo. The highlight of the evening was a song Bridget wrote about one of R. B.’s very successful field trial setters named The Welshman. The Welshman lived his life chained to a doghouse next to their house along the Juniata River outside Lewistown, near the town of McVey. One cold winter day Bridget looked out and was inspired to write a song about the setter sitting next to his doghouse in the snow and the ice. It was presented to us using the tune of “The MTA”, a classic folk song by the Kingston Trio.

LuAnn is mentioned in the song; she did the chores around the kennels and the horse barn.

The Dog Who Never Returned

By Bridget Allen

Let me tell you the story of a dog named The Welshman

On a bright, cold winter’s day.

There was snow on the ground, and the river was frozen

All the way to the Town of McVey.

Welshman dragged his bones out of his trusty old doghouse

Rubbed his eyes, did stretch and whiz.

From his master’s house he heard a banjo ringin’

Seems these days, that’s all there is.

He took a long, hard look at his tired old doghouse.

It was splattered with mud and piss.

His chain was tangled, and his bucket was frozen

He said, “There’s more to life than this!”

Chorus: “If I ever get loose, I’m a-leavin’ this place,

And my fate will be unlearned.

I may run forever by the Juniata

I’m the dog who never returned!”

Right then LuAnn came to his rescue;

Pulled his collar right over his brow.

Welshman looked at her, said, “Ma’am, I thank you!

They will never catch me now!”

So all day long, Welsh ran by the river

Rolled in carcasses and piles of poo

When he heard Lu’s whistle, he said, “I don’t think so.

“I’ve got somethin’ better to do!”

So he pointed wild ducks and a long-legged heron

Chased a tom cat and some fish.

Then he stopped for a moment to

consider his fortune

Howl’d, “It’s more than I could wish!”

Chorus: “So will I ever return?  No, I’ll never return,

And my fate will be unlearned.

I will run forever by the Juniata

I’m the dog who never returned!”

Well, he raced the wind, and he

reveled in his freedom

With some pheasants and quail he played.

He thought, “Surely this must mean I’m in bird dog heaven.”

Yup, he’s out there to this day!

Chorus: And did he ever return?  No, he never returned,

And his fate is still unlearned.

He will run forever by the Juniata

He’s the dog who never returned!


Miller’s Vanilla Snow Wins; Thomas Adirondack Turbo is Runner-Up The Keystone Championship was judged by Mike Husenits of West Lebanon, Pa., and young trainer Mike Panovski of Cookstown, Ont. We all owe them a sincere “thank you for all you do.” They rode the same for all and made a decision applauded by all.

Mike Husenits reported the Championship.

The Championship began on Monday morning with a light rain falling and temperatures in the 40s. Much rain had fallen and the ground was quite muddy and tough negotiating for dogs and horses. The first brace went at 8:32.

Corey’s Easy Holy Water (G. Tracy) and Steel City Karen (J. Tracy) set an early standard with very well applied forward ground races. Corey scored mannerly finds at 8, 53 and a divided stand at 57. Karen suffered an unproductive at 38, then a stylish find at 42 followed by a divided find at 57. Corey was the stronger finisher.

Backcountry Bonnie (M. Tracy) hunted hard and forward but was birdless and up at 50. Jessie’s Bonanza (J. Tracy) hunted forward, scored a stylish find at 25 and another at 37 on fenceline but went AWOL in the finishing bottom, the retrieval unit requested at 55.

Pine Straw Sweet Tea (J. Tracy) backed at 5, scored at 28 in long bottom corner, then shared finds at 50 and 53, finishing ahead. A Slight Edge (M. Tracy) had a well executed find on first hilltop at 5, another at 32 along right edge and two divided finds at 50 and 53 going up the draw, finishing well ahead going away strong.

Miller’s Vanilla Snow (G. Tracy) turned in a stellar performance to win this Championship. She started fast rimming the breakaway bottom then found standing statuesquely at 6 along top edge. Sent ahead, the fleet footed female showed nicely once or twice crossing the big bottom and found far ahead at 25 on treeline, perfect for the flush and ensuing shot. She continued rimming forward distant edges, scoring twice more at 42 and 45 and finishing going strong along creek side edge. Bail Me Out (M. Tracy) ran a pleasing forward race, scoring mannerly finds at 40 and 43 but was up at 45 for failure to back.

Fast and Furious (M. Tracy) put on a challenging exhibition with a far-flung forward ground heat and solid finds at 7, 38, 40, 52 and 55, all with high style and rock solid intensity, finishing strong to the front. Ladywood’s Keepsake (J. Tracy) backed mannerly at 7 but suffered from limber tail and was picked up.

Coosawhatchie Smooth Ride (M. Tracy) proved to be a bird-finding star with polished finds at 7, 22, 38, 41, 54 on a rabbit and 56. A tendency to break off several casts hurt his overall fine effort. Miller’s Unbridled Forever (G. Tracy) scored a solid find on hilltop at 6, another at 22 but slowed later and was picked up.

Tuesday began cloudy with cold temperatures. The skies threatened of bad weather to come. Riviera (J. Tracy) and High Drive War Paint (G. Tracy) started at 8:17. Riviera scored on hilltop at 5 along the brush line, then pointed a rabbit at 22 and was up after a find at 36, her range diminished. Paint had a stylish find at 7 but went to places unknown and was lost at 22.

Lovern’s Red Lace (G. Tracy) hunted forward, had a divided find at 6 along hilltop edge, followed by a stylish find at 24 along old fenceline and another mannerly stand at 40 before shortening and being picked up. Backcountry Tornado (M. Tracy) shared a find at 6, and then went far ahead, showing once or twice before vanishing in the big bottom and counted out.

Jubullee (M. Tracy) scored a mannerly find at 3, backed with style at 10 but was up after unproductive stands at 14 and 17. High Drive Ranger (G. Tracy) had a divided find at 3, pointed a rabbit at 10 and was up after a sterile stand at 14.

Temperatures had fallen and we started the afternoon running at 1:12 with light snow falling. Walden’s Ridge Shadow Dancer (M. Tracy) and Land Cruiser Benny (J. Tracy). Dancer looked positive on a stand at 5 but nothing was raised. He scored on treeline near the old bone pile at 35, picked up at 45 as the snowflakes were getting larger and visibility was hampered. Benny hunted forward, showing good running style and application. His find on treeline at 30 was handled to perfection, and he was up at 45 in the cold snow.

The judges called off the running for the remainder of the day due to the heavy snow and poor visibility. After we arrived back at the clubhouse and waited about 30 minutes the snowfall had abated, but too late.

Wednesday dawned with temperature around freezing with the sun shining, a promising improved weather conditions. Sugarknoll War Paint (G. Tracy) and Waybetter Rocky (M. Tracy) were released at 8:52, both fast and stylish rimming distant objectives. They were at the same place at the same time on several occasions either sharing a find or backing. Their shared finds occurred at 5, 50 and 58. Rocky backed Paint at 22 and Paint backed Rocky at 30. Paint had an independent find at 42 and Rocky scored independently at 35 and 40. Both finished strong.

Bully Bragg (M. Tracy) started strong, scoring a mannerly find on hilltop at 5, then a short absence, reappearing ahead and notching finds at 26 and 35 but was out of pocket and returned from the rear and was up at 50. Shadow Oak Doc (G. Tracy) stood stylishly at 7 along brushy corn field edge; a lengthy flush and relocation proved fruitless, ending his bid.

Bulltaeo (M. Tracy) ran with plenty of eye appeal, notched a stylish find at 7 followed by another at 26 along treeline where he stood his ground majestically as a quail nearly winged his face, but gave way to temptation at 40 on a relocation effort and was picked up. Erin’s War Creek (G. Tracy) topped the first hill and was gone for the count.

Ladywood’s Miss Daisy (J. Tracy) hunted hard and handled well, shared a find at 22 but was harnessed at 37. Country Girl (M. Tracy) went with high cracking tail, stood solidly on the shared find at 22 but was up at 32 after a long unproductive and relocation effort.

Jessie’s Bojangles (J. Tracy) and Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane (G. Tracy) broke away at 2:10 from the old bone pile area. Jessie suffered barren stands at 14 and 20 and was up. Jane suffered a slight bobble on a relocation effort at 10 and was leashed.

The next pair was turned loose at 2:43 on hilltop near the old stone wall. Thomas Adirondack Turbo (M. Tracy) turned in a stellar performance to gain the nod for runner-up. After rimming the big bottom field, he scored as we hunted up the brushy draw above the bird pen at 5, all in order for the flush and shot. He stood with exquisite style at 16 and followed with solid finds at 31, 40 and 45, all handled peerlessly. His ground coverage was forever to the fore with the speed of a dare devil, his only demerit a long unproductive and relocation attempt at 56. Steel City Storm (J. Tracy) covered the ground with eye-catching cracking tail, suffered an unproductive at 6 near top of brushy draw, then a polished find at 30 followed by a second sterile stand and picked up at 36.

Touch’s Mae Mobley (G. Tracy) and Great River Survivor (M. Tracy) were exuberantly away at 4:03. Mae carded a solidly composed find at 8 followed by a miscue at 30, ending her bid. Survivor looked positive on a stand in the river bottom at 9 but nothing raised or relocated, up at 36 after no further work.

Sassy Creek (J. Tracy) was scratched bringing the Championship to a close. Several contenders that challenged the winners included Fast and Furious, Cory’s Easy Holy Water, A Slight Edge, Pine Straw Sweet Tea and Coosawhatchie Smooth Ride.

Petersburg, Pa., November 6 — One Course

Judges: Mike Husenits and Mike Panovski


[One-Hour Heats] — 31 Pointers and 6 Setters

Winner—MILLER’S VANILLA SNOW, 1627174, pointer female, by Lester’s Snowatch—L G Addition Sue. Tommy & Bonnie Hamilton, owners; George Tracy, handler.

Runner-Up—THOMAS ADIRONDACK TURBO, 1656122, pointer male, by True Confidence—Richfield Rose. Jim & Nadine Thomas, owners; Mike Tracy, handler.


We had 22 in the Yankee Open Derby Classic judged by Mike Panovski and Greg Strausbaugh, who filled in for Mike Husenits who was called away.

Winner of the stake was Sal Morelli’s pointer male Cheyenne Jack. He prevailed with a strong forward race and six good finds, five of them handled with finished manners. Sal, 87 years old, rode the whole stake over these steep hills. Second was Glassilaun War Paint, pointer male owned by Jamie Nee and handled by Toby Tobiassen. He had a good forward race with two good finds and a pair of backs with advanced manners. Frank Joyal’s Armstrong Mountain Dustie was third. The pointer male had three finished finds and a good forward race. Mike Tracy handled the first and third place Derbies.

Judges: Mike Panovski and Greg Strausbaugh


1st—CHEYENNE JACK, 1668503, male, by Great River Ice—Blaze’s Isis. S. J. Morelli, owner; Mike Tracy, handler.

2d—GLASSILAUN WAR PAINT, 1667331, male, by Sugarknoll War Paint—Neely’s Hot Pepper. Jamie Nee, owner; Toby Tobiassen, handler.

3d—ARMSTRONG MOUNTAIN DUSTIE, 1673241, male, by Great River Ice—Summerhill Black Label Frank Joyal, owner; Mike Tracy, handler.

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